Date of Award

Spring 1992

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Life in the fifteenth century was based upon conviction; strong convictions that facilitated the creation of structures in society. For women this meant that strict limitations upon acceptable behavior; it was practically impossible for a woman to establish her independence.

In Florence, birth place of the cultural and intellectual renaissance and home to the liberal philosophies of the Neoplatonic Academy, women were still expected to fit into the one mold suitable for her description. Women were seen and believed by their male counter parts to be the weaker sex- both mentally and physically- and therefore submissive to the more dominant male. Philosophers, academics, and public leaders supported the common beliefs with research and documentation that justified them. The actual women of the day, however, contradicted the professed norms of faintheartedness, fragility, and ignorance. Many aristocratic women held positions of responsibility within the family and were highly visible in the community. Women such as Isabella d'Este, Veronica Gambara, and Vittoria Colonna were respected and praised by their peers for their achievements both inside and outside of the home. These women campaigned against the stereotypes that limited them into the role of the timid, obedient woman dependent upon the man for her livelihood. Their success began the change that allowed more women to assert their independence.

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